Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Male Brain

When it comes to purchasing books, I normally go with fiction but I have taken a recent liking to self-help books. Not so much self-help as a biological understanding of humans. I guess you could say a combination of biology and physiology. And as far as I can remember I have always loved biology. Well, I guess you could say since tenth grade since it was when I had had my first biology course.

Now, for all you ladies out there who want to understand what goes on in a man’s head. “The Male Brain” by Louann Brizendine is certainly the book for you. There is certainly many other psychological factors that have not been explained, however, it does bring you a step closer to understanding why so many men are the way that they are: due to their hormones.

What I loved about Brizendine’s way of writing is that she helps the readers understand how each hormone works by giving examples of every situation in simplistic terms. And anyone who has taken biology knows how complicated every system can get. Brizendine explains how every level of the hormones react starting from fetal growth to boyhood then puberty to a man in his twenties to fatherhood then midlife and eventually eighty-five years and up (known as andropause for men and menopause for women) Every age has a different hormonal stage from one to the other.

She starts off by explaining how every hormone acts. For instance she says that Dopamine is “The Energizer. The intoxicating life of the party, he’s all about feeling good, having fun, and going for the gusto. Excited and highly motivated, he’s pumped up to win and driven to hit the jackpot again and again.”

Now, I’m not going to summarize the book since you can get that on Google, or even purchase the book yourselves. But, I have highlighted some points in this book that I thought were very interesting and wanted to share it with you all.

·      There is a process in which scientists refer to as “embodied cognition” which signifies how boys use muscles and body parts in order to learn a meaning of a word. Brizendine gives the example of “when a boy first learns to read the word run, his brain fires messages to his leg muscles and makes them twitch.” – The reason I found this interesting is because a boy uses more of his muscles and nervous systems to think than girls do.

·      “Testosterone and vasopressin is what alters a teen boy’s sense of reality. In a similar fashion, estrogen and oxytocin change the way teen girls perceive reality. The girls’ hormonally driven changes in perception prime their brains for emotional connections and relationships, while the boys hormones prime them for aggressive and territorial behaviours.” – This is interesting because we now know why boys get really overprotective and jealous over their loved ones and act upon it without even thinking first.

·      Brizendine gave an example of a man named Ryan and a woman named Nicole when it came to kissing. This info is one that I was REALLY shocked by… Listen to this: “Saliva contains molecules from all the glands and organs in the body, so a French kiss serves up our signature flavor. As soon as Ryan’s tongue touched Nicole’s, information about each other’s health and genes was collected and secretly sent to their brains. If Nicole had genes that were too similar to his and the kiss tasted sour, it could have been a sexual deal-breaker.” – Isn’t that crazy? Let me explain incase you don’t know much about DNA. Even though a person is not related to you in anyway and could even be from the complete opposite culture in comparison to yourself, you could have the same genetic code. And so, if your DNA is too similar to a person, the kiss will taste weird!

·      An oddly weird yet cute fact given in the book was about side-blotched lizards and how the male lizards come with 1 of 3 different colored throats that depend on their mating styles. “Males with orange throats use the alpha-male harem strategy. They guard a group of females and mate with all of them. The males with yellow throats are called sneakers because they slip into the harem of the orange throat and mate with his females whenever they can get away with it. The males with the brilliant blue throats use the one-and-only strategy. They mate with one female and guard her 24/7.” You may be asking why she gave this fact, which brings me to the next point…

·      There was a study conducted between both prairie voles (who are monogamous, just like penguins, once they have found their mates, they’re together for life) and their relative, montane voles (who are the promiscuous ones). And according to this study the prairie voles “vasopressin receptor gene is a longer version” and the montane voles “is a shorter version. When scientists inserted the long version of the gene into the promiscuous montane vole, he, too, became monogamous.” – And what’s interesting is that humans have this very same vasopressin receptor gene, and the reason why some are monogamous and others aren’t is exactly because of the same reason as the voles. The difference is that eventually a man could become monogamous due to the fact that brain biology is different. We are, after all, the smartest animals on Earth. Isn't that funny though? Every single time you've heard a girl say, "he's one in a million." He really isn't, it's just that that particular guy has a longer vasopressin gene receptor!

·      “The female brain stays in the MNS longer, while the male brain quickly switches over to the TPJ.” MNS stands for Mirror Neuron System, which is a part of the brain that activates for emotion recognition. TPJ, on the other hand, stands for Temporal-Parietal Junction System that processes emotions and gets to a “fix it fast” solution.

·      “A man’s brain area for suppressing anger, the septum, is smaller than it is in the female brain.” – Another reason why men aren’t able to contain their anger as well as females do.

And lastly, one thing I learned about reading this book is that men, even boys, at such a young age are fighters. They fight for their role to become the alpha male (which is actually the only way to describe it) whether it comes to being the alpha male at playgrounds, high school, work, women… They always want to be number one. Status is what they pursue their whole lives. And after puberty, they look for status as well as sex. They don’t stop thinking about it until their hormone levels decrease at 85 by less than half of what is was when they were in their twenties. It’s the sad, harsh reality of it.

This book is without a doubt one of the most interesting books I have read, and I have learnt so much about it. I will absolutely be purchasing Brizendine’s “The Female Brain” very soon!

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